The Angry Corrie 72: Nov 2007-Jan 2008

Beinn Dearg and the Munro Society

On the subject of the Torridon Beinn Dearg, most readers will know by now that the 25 August resurvey produced no change, either to the hill's status (it stays as a Corbett) or its height (it stays at 914m on the maps). The survey was conducted by CMCR of Larbert, supported by the Munro Society - the same pairing which visited Foinaven in May - and the result was announced on 7 September at a press conference much less well attended than the Foinaven one. When proceedings got underway, TAC's editor was the only member of the press pack present, and although a woman from the BBC turned up a few minutes later, there was no sign of the squad of radio and newspaper people present at the Foinaven event. Maybe Beinn Dearg needs to be renamed Red Rum or something.

The height announced was 913.675m, which converts to 2997ft 7in, and although this might at first glance look like a drop from the map height, it rounds up to 914m, same as the existing figure. In fact the 914m map height could even have been lower, as anything down to just over 913.5m would round up. The location for the 913.675m height was 189529.601 E, 860820.553 N, and given that the OS map height had been calculated from a ground survey (as opposed to the less accurate aerial survey used by the OS to get 914m for Foinaven), the lack of change didn't seem to take anyone by surprise.

Attention now switches to the other side of the fence, with CMCR/MunSoc apparently game for visiting some or all of the three 915m Munros. At least two of these hills - Ben Vane and Beinn Teallach - owe their borderline height to the aerial-survey method (orange rather than black spot-height dots on the 1:25k map). With the third, Sgurr nan Ceannaichean, it's hard to know, as there's not a height on Explorer 429. Were even one of these hills to drop enough to prompt demotion from Munro to Corbett status, it would be quite a coup for CMCR/MunSoc. If the necessary funding can be put in place, we should start to see results next spring or summer.

Speaking of funding, TAC has taken an interest in how the resurvey process has been underwritten, especially after reading two curiously conflicting statements in the July 2007 newsletter of the MunSoc. On page 2, the society's president, Iain Robertson, wrote: "Having made the decision to investigate, by far the greatest problem facing the Executive was that of cost, the hire of equipment and personnel is in the region of 1000+ per day, well beyond the resources of the Society," and he added that CMCR "offered to carry out the surveys at no cost to the Society, the benefit to the firm being the publicity it would receive". On page 4, however, Fred Ward's treasurer's report had this: "The balance at the end of the financial year 31 December was 1728.52. The total income expected from Members' subscriptions this year will add to this a sum of 3000."

The 2007 projection was based on 200 x 15 subscriptions, and on this basis it seemed that MunSoc has had several thousand pounds in the bank at some stage this year - which didn't seem to tally with the 1000+ per day survey rate being "well beyond the resources of the Society".

TAC put this to Iain Robertson in an attempt to clarify the situation, and he replied on 30 August: "We were initially advised by a TMS [MunSoc] member who is a recently retired surveyor and it was he who came forward with the 1,000+ per day estimate of costs. Further information which has come to us suggests that a figure nearer 2000 per day might be more realistic for the services of a reputable surveying firm. Our initial approach to four surveying firms was on the basis of reducing these costs, ie some form of hire fee with TMS members taking the equipment to the summits, pressing the buttons and returning the equipment for processing. We now know that this is impracticable as professional surveyors must be present to operate the equipment. Of the four firms approached, two offered to carry out the exercise at no cost to TMS, the other two did not reply. CMCR Ltd's offer was accepted as it was the first to be received.

"You are thus incorrect in assuming that TMS was unwilling to contribute anything to the cost of the surveys, but I think we were justified in our assumption that we could not afford the full commercial rate as the expenditure to date would have been in the region of 6000. TMS pays for the surveyors' accommodation.

"You ask if consideration was given to splitting the costs with CMCR Ltd. We did not because CMCR Ltd is, to my knowledge, perfectly happy with the arrangement and the publicity it has received. I can, however, assure you that TMS is not intent merely to accumulate funds. Subscriptions come in throughout the year, we are soon to publish our first Journal and other events require up front funding. Given these expenditures we do not consider our bank balance to be excessive."

TAC 72 Index

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